Friday, 28 December 2007

A Year of Home Baking

One year has already past since I first started this blog.

This was my intention when I first started this blog:
I hope I am able to get ideas and suggestions from fellow home bakers to improve my baking skills. At the same time I hope my creations and little experiments would also inspire others, who are like me, to start baking as a hobby.

Blogging is all about sharing. It is a wonderful platform for people who have got common interests to learn from one and other; to share and exchange ideas and experiences. So, I will like to thank everyone of you who have stopped by, and taken time to read and comment, and not forgetting all those who have linked me up. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and for walking alongside with me on my baking journey. I greatly appreciate your encouraging words, the exchange of ideas and information which has really helped me tremendously in improving my baking skills.

Indeed it was a whole year of home baking, from muffins to cookies and from cakes to bread. Thanks to all the wonderful food bloggers out there, I have tried and attempted many recipes that I wouldn't imagine I would ever be capable to come up with if not for their generous sharing of recipes and experiences. I am always so overwhelmed and inspired by their creativity and talents.

It also didn't occur to me that baking and photography actually come hand in hand in this blogging world. I have not taken a single photo of food before I started my baking journey. So it's a bonus that I am now slowly acquiring the skill of taking food photos. On top of that, my cooking skill has definitely improved by an inch!

I should have baked a cake to mark this special occasion, but instead I made something I have all along been wanting to do ever since I made my first loaf of bread. Yes, it's a focaccia bread. I have waited so long to try this as it took me several months before I got some coarse sea salt, and it was only yesterday that I bought my first pack of fresh rosemary! You may be surprised that fresh western herbs are not as readily available here...only certain supermarket outlets carry them.

Although I have gathered several focaccia recipes over the past months, I still did a search on the internet last night, just to see whether I can find any other suitable recipes. It was with luck that I chanced upon this blog. I was totally taken over by the recipe...besides fresh rosemary it also has got garlic added to the dough! I was very sure that the bread will turn out very flavourful. Hence, I incorporated the recipe I have on hand with this one :)

As with all my first attempts, I didn't know what to expect when I was making this bread. After having kneaded the dough for close to 10mins, it seemed to be quite smooth and less sticky. However, the next minute, the dough started to stick to the work surface again! and it got more sticky the more I knead on it! I was quite sure something must be wrong somewhere, so I stopped, oiled my hands, and slowly gather the dough to form a ball and left it to proof. The dough looked very silky and shinny...very much like a roti prata dough?!

Fortunately, it doubled in size within an hour. It was not easy trying to press and smooth the sticky dough evenly onto the baking tray. I left it to rise for the second time, but after an hour, there was no clear sign of expansion, although it did looked a little puffy. As I was running out of time, I went ahead with the next step...which was the fun part...making small little holes with my fingers all over the surface, then fill the holes randomly with rosemary, and finally drizzle over the olive oil and a light sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

The scent from the rosemary and garlic while the bread was baking in the oven was incredible! When it was finally ready, I had a hard time trying to remove the bread from the tray, as it got all stuck onto the tray. It was a miracle that I didn't break the bread into pieces with my rough handling!

What can I say about the taste of this bread? I like how savoury it is, the taste is just fantastic! My better half has finally got the chance to eat this homemade focaccia bread...this is one of the couple of things that he has asked me to bake for him :)

Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia


300g bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant or fast acting dried yeast
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
190~200ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil

for topping:
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
some coarse sea salt

  1. Mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast, chopped garlic, rosemary in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in the oil, followed by the water. Do not add all the water, leave about 10~20ml and adjust accordingly. Mix to form a soft dough.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough for about 5 ~10mins, until it becomes smooth and silky. Flour both hands and make the dough into a round ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to rise for about 1hr until it double in bulk.
  3. Punch down the dough, and knead it lightly for about a minute. Press dough onto a baking tray (about 12 x 10 inches, greased). Fill in any gaps and push the dough into the corners, and patting out to make an even layer. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until almost double in height, about 45mins to 1 hr.
  4. Flour or oil your fingers and press into the risen dough to make dimples, pushing you fingers deep into the dough. Press rosemary sprigs into the dimples and fill them with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degC for 20 to 25mins or until golden brown.
  5. Remove bread from baking tray and drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Small Small Baker said...

Hi HHB, Happy 1st Birthday for your blog!

Thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes and tips for baking. You have inspired me to start baking and develop a love for it. And I always see u giving advice and encouraging many other bakers. Thanks!

Expect lots more from u the coming year. Happy 2008 to u and your family!!! :)

Mer said...

Congratulations on a year of blogging! Keep up the good work! :0)

And focaccia bread... yum! My friend and I were just talking about focaccia bread. I have never made any. I will have to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Indeed it has been a long way for most of us :) But it's definitely has been fulfilling and a passion rekindled, at least for my case. One can't describe the satisfaction and how enjoying the process can be if they're aren't into it. Thanks so much for dropping by my blog and your encourage counts, your successful attempts on cakes/breads are always so encouraging for me. Happy Home Baking!

Tablebread said...

Such beautiful focaccia! I love rosemary focaccia and yours is absolutely beautiful! said...

Just discovered your blog and, WOW!!!

You are a talented Mom!
The focaccia looks wonderful, I can smell it from here. You take great photos, too!

I see you are on the Foodie Blogroll, and I wanted to add you to the Great Cooks blogroll, too.

Your newest reader,
Jill from Texas

Mandy said...

happy anniversary! Your baking and phototaking skills have definitely improved more than an inch!!
The focaccia looks absolutely delightful!

Krissles said...

It's certainly been a pleasure reading of your (and your little ones') adventures in the kitchen!

Here's to another year ;)

Cuisine Paradise said...

Yeah HHB,

Congrat on your baking journery and thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes with us. I love all your bread, cakes, bento and etc... recipes... Keep it up! Hope to see more of your new creation in the coming 2008. Since I am working full time now and had no time to try out any new recipes I will be delighted to admire all those of you and other bloggers creation :) Jia You!!!


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday and lovely bread you have! Looking forward to more lovely bakes from you in 2008!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your 1st birthday! Though I only pop in once in a while, your recipes & pixs never fail to impress me. Thank you for sharing with us your experience! May 2008 bring more exciting baking & cooking for you :)


sweet-tooth said...

This is incredible!
I can almost taste it :D
Congrats on your 1 year anniversary!

Anonymous said...

Hi, congratulations on your 1st anniversary. Thanks for your effort and generiosity for sharing your experiences online. I started baking after I chanced upon your blog and it has brought me and my family much joy. Thank you and I look forward to another year with you !

Yan said...

the focaccia bread looks delish! slurpz.

happy 1st blog anniversary to u !!!!!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Small small baker, There's this 'magical' thing about baking that will get you hooked once you get started! I am very glad to find a fellow baking kaki like you :) Looking forward to sharing and learning from you too!

Thanks Mer! Do try it! I am sure it will be a very rewarding experience :D

Elyn, I agree fully with you! I have learn alot from you too!!

Hi Lewis, thanks for dropping by :) This is the first time I have tasted fresh rosemary, and I think I've already fallen in love with it!

Hi Jill, thanks so much for adding me into the Great Cooks blogroll...although I must confess, my cooking skill is only at the elementary stage ;)

Mandy, thanks so much for always being so encouraging! I really admire your cookings skills, and not forgetting all the delicious desserts you have churn out from your oven!

Webmiss Kris, I'm glad to hear that you enjoy reading our messing around in the kitchen ;)

Ellena, I understand, I always admire those of you who are working full time and yet manage to cook and bake! All the best to your baking venture, Jia You :)

Thanks Bernice!

Hi Xan, I do hope I can spend as much time in baking for the coming year!

Sweet-tooth, thanks!

Hi Anonymous, it's a pleasure to hear that you baking has bring so much joy to you and your family! Happy baking :P

Thanks Yan!

Ning's Mummy said...

Happy 1st anniversary!

Aimei said...

Cheers to your one year anniversary of your blog! I believe it has been a wonderful year not only for you but for many fellow baking enthusiasts as well because of your humble sharing and encouraging words that brought inspiration and courage to many of us.

Your focaccia looks really wonderful! It really marks the milestone of your one year in blogging.

Btw, you are the first blogger that I linked up and you were the first to leave me a comment. Thanks for your advice all these while. Happy 2008 and all the best for a great year ahead. ;)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Ning's Mummy, thanks!

Aimei, really?! I feel so honoured :D
Here's wishing you a fruitful year ahead!

MH said...


Thank you so much for sharing your baking knowledge and experience! And your pictures are.... WOW! so beautifully taken!

Happy 1st anniversary and Happy new year to you!

bakeAstory said...

Congratulations on your anniversary!

I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Your generous sharing of recipes, tips and links to other websites are things that makes it comeback whenever I have time. You have been my inspiration for me. Oh and great photos too!

Cheers. And a very Happy New Year to you!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and wishing u many more good baking/cooking years ahead!

Anonymous said...

This focaccia looks incredible. Well done! Congratulations on a greta year.

Karva said...

How cool, I made focaccia with rosemary and sea salt today as well :D
Focaccia is definitely one of the greatests breads around. It's so good that you don't need any spiced butters or side dishes with it. Maybe some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but that's about it.

Happy New Year. Keep those delicious entries and recipes coming :)

serena said...

Hi! Hi! Can't believe it's another year! Getting older! Happy 1st Blogging year!! Love your bread. Very eager to see more of your beautiful creations in the coming year.

Gazelle said...

Congradts on the one year!

I love your blog :P
and all your creations and easy-to-read recipes.

I'm a regular once I found this place :P!
keep it up!

Prego81 said...

Happy 2008 and thank you for sharing all those wonderful recipes & great pictures. Your blog really inspire me to pick up baking.

Happy Baking...

shiyan said...

Hey HHB! Happie 1st Birthday to your dear blog. Wanna say that I really do enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for all the wonderful posts. Do keep those entries coming in ya?

And happie new year to ya too! Hv a great 2008!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi MyHomeKitchen, thanks for sharing with me too :D

BakeAstory, thanks for popping over :) You make wonderful cakes, I doubt I'll ever come up with anything that's close enough ;)

vb, same to you! thanks for sharing your cooking/baking knowledge. I have learned a great deal from you!

Jerry, thank you for your kind words!

Karva, what a coincident! I am sure your focaccia tasted great! Yes, we just ate the bread on it's own! Wishing you a wonderful year ahead :)

Serena, yes, it's amazing how quickly the last year has past by! I am now looking forward to another year of baking ;)

Gazella, thanks for being a regular visitor. Will love to hear from you regularly too ;p

Prego81, I am so glad that my blog has give you some inspirations...baking is really fun!

Shiyan, thanks for your encouragement! All the best for the year ahead :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Happy Blog Birthday! You are an asset to the food blogging community. Your foccacia bread looks amazing! I will definitely try your recipe.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the first year!!
Blogging is a great way to share and I enjoy reading about your baking and seeing your pics. It is making me braver with the things I try and make in my home for dinner.

ICook4Fun said...

Happy 1st anniverysary to your blog. Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey of baking and also sharing your beautiful pics. Happy New Year to you and best wishes for the year 2008

Robin said...

Congrats on one year of blogging and the bread looks delicious!

cocoa said...

Hi, came across your blog from LCOM and love all your food pictures and of course your wonderful creation.

If I am right, you said you use the point and shoot camera? are you using and special lighting for all the photo you took?

guess what.. i will be another frequent visitor to this blog.

Congrat and keep up your good work!

Happy Homebaker said...

Thanks Lynn! You made me blushed with your compliments ;)

thanks teeth whiteners!

I Cook4Fun, have fun cooking for the year ahead!

Thanks Robin!

Hi Cocoa, thanks for your compliments! I use a Cannon Powershot G3 camera. I just set it to the auto mode, turn on the macro mode and 'point & shoot'. I do not have any special lightings...I rely on natural sunlight to take my photos.

Anonymous said...


Happy 1st Blogging! =) Congrats and many thanks for the nice recipes, tips and drooling pictures of your delicious bakes! (^^,) focaccia is my fav. bread!! *gasp* Just by looking at yours makes me wanna go grab one NOW! >.< been wanting to try making it for sometime already, i guess 2008 is really the time to try making it! Have a fruitful and blessed 2008! =)

Sunshinemom said...

Hi, I visited your blog many times in the last few days as I am just venturing into blogosphere and baking. Just loved your recipes and the pictures. I guess I will be trying out a lot of them myself. They are so droolworthy!!

Happy Homebaker said...

Thanks Amandalwh!

Hi Sunshinemon, thanks for visiting, I am looking forward to reading about your posts on baking :)

Anonymous said...

Your foccacia bread looks delicious. I've been wanting to make my own, but I still haven't get started.

Sunshinemom said...

Hi again,

I just posted the focaccia I made inspired by yours and delicious days!! Do come along and see it. Looking forward to your visit!!

Passionate About Baking said...

I tried baking this focaccia today, but it didn't turn out to be so beautiful like yours. I added only about 185ml of water and found that the dough was very sticky. I tried to knead it till not too sticky and let it proof. Somehow, after baking, the crust was real hard, it rised so much higher than yours in the centre. Any idea what went wrong for my focaccia? :p But I really love the taste. Thanks!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Passionate About Baking, from your photos, I think maybe it'e because your didn't shape the dough big enough. I pressed the dough to fill up the entire (12 x 10 inches) baking tray.
As for the hard crust...did you cover the dough during the second proofing? Any bread dough that's left uncovered during proofing will form a hard crust on the surface.

Passionate About Baking said...

Oops oops oops! I must've done you a disservice by not following instructions! *salute as a means of apologising*
I didn't fill up the entire baking tray because my tray was much larger than 12x10inch. I usually don't cover the dough during 2nd proofing for other breads, so I didn't thought it will affect so much as I put it in the oven to proof. So it's impt to cover the dough during the 2nd proof yah? How about the water, it's ok to use just 185ml? Also, has the water got to be cold or normal room temperature? Can I use my mixer with dough hook to knead instead?
Actually despite the bread being slightly hard, the taste was REALLY REALLY very good leh! I really love it. I'll attempt it again this weekend (for my parents & siblings)! Thanks again HHB!!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Passionate About Baking, I have not tried proofing dough in the oven, as such I don't know whether it is necessary to cover it? As for the water amount, you have to adjust it according...if the dough is a bit dry (meaning there are still flour remaining in your mixing bowl which cannot be gathered into a soft dough), then u add a little bit more water. If too wet and sticky, add a little bit of flour and adjust accordingly. I have not tried using mixer to knead the dough, but I am sure it can be done. I love the taste of the garlic and rosemary too! The kitchen smells so nice when the bread is baking hor?!

Passionate About Baking said...

Thanks for your advise and tips. Will try again this weekend. Yes, the bread is really fragrant & it fills up the kitchen with the nice smell! :)

Passionate About Baking said...

I baked again on Saturday. This time, it was really softer. I let it proofed in the oven and placed 2 bowls of hot water in it, to provide it with humidity. The focaccias turned out very good. Can you imagine I did 3 portions of this and split them into 4 portions and gave them out? There were only all praises for the bread! Thank you very much for your guidance and recipe!

Anonymous said...


I was wondering... is it ok if I use dry rosemary? And also, do you eat this on its own.. if not, what would you recommend eating it with. I'm from the yoo-kay (UK :P).

- Fai

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Fai, greetings from Singapore :b
It should be ok to use dried ones, but for better flavours, I do encourage you to look for fresh ones. We usually eat focaccia plain, but you can always turn it into a sandwich, with ham, lettuce and tomatoes ;)

Anonymous said...

Ah, OK... I'm rather lazy so I like to stick with dry herbs if I can help it... since they keep longer I don't have to keep topping up. ;D


soh fei wah said...

Hi I baked this bread and add half of wholemeal flour, bread is nice and yummy...
Thank you for sharing.